More questions you should ask your defensive shooting instructor – and why.

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I recently received a note asking about questions to pose to potential instructors, questions that would tell a prospective student whether a shooting instructor (and their material) was worth consideration. That process is called “vetting” an instructor: assessing his or her background and suitability. It’s incredibly important for prospective students to do, yet there’s no easy way to do it.

Because of that, most people fall back on the instructor’s resumé: what shooting courses he’s attended, what military or law enforcement ...

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Incident Analysis: family threatened, attacker shot at home in rural Oregon.

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Oregon is a wonderful state, generally very peaceful and tranquil. That isn’t to say crime doesn’t happen here, however, and there is the need to be prepared — just like you would anywhere else. Today’s case comes from the Medford Mail-Tribune and offers some lessons to heed.

On the evening of July 14th, a man tried to break into the secluded home of Charles and Jeanine Buckman. The Buckmans heard a man — later identified as Matthew Durbin, a transient ...

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What I’ve been doing lately, and some new class announcements for Threat-Centered training!

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Whew! It’s been crazy around here lately!

I just got back from an unplanned consulting trip. As some of you might know, from time to time I do a little work with companies in the shooting industry. Some of those jobs have resulted in products, some will in the future, and occasionally there’s the company that decides maybe their product idea isn’t as good as it could be. In this case, I’m happy to say that I think we’ll see a ...

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Welcome to the new GrantCunningham.com website!

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This has been some time in the making!

Over the last year I’ve become dissatisfied with my site, because it didn’t reflect what I do and where the shooting world is going. My self defense and personal security articles were banished to my sister site (www.personalsecurity.us) and people coming here were treated to nothing but guns and shooting. Now don’t get me wrong — I like those subjects, but if you’ve read any of my self-defense books or articles on other ...

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Is the old lever action half-cock safety really all that safe?

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We’ve all been taught about the half-cock notch on lever action rifles. How safe is it, really?

When I was growing up lever action rifles (with the exception of the Savage 99) had no safeties. It was assumed, and taught, that the safe way to carry a lever action with a round in the chamber was to lower the hammer to the half-cock notch. When needed, the hammer was thumbed back as the gun was brought to the shoulder.

Fast forward to ...

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What can a foiled terrorist attack teach us about defensive planning?

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By now you’ve no doubt heard about the tragic incident in Garland, Texas. For those who missed it, on Sunday a “Draw Mohammed” Cartoon show was held in that town; contestants vied for the best cartoon in celebration of free speech. There were speakers who are active in the free speech movement, including a Dutch citizen who has earned a spot on an al Qaeda hit list.

Two men — one of whom since identified by the FBI as having ...

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It’s May Day, and time to sign up for Threat Centered Revolver in Ohio!

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Do you have a revolver for self defense, or do you have one in the house as a family defense tool? Maybe you carry a revolver as a back-up or supplement to your primary carry gun? If you do, or even if you’re just curious about how to use the revolver properly, this is the course you need to take!

If you’ve read my book Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, you know that I view the double action revolver as a viable defensive ...

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Just what is a “critical skill”?

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I really should stop reading stuff people link to on FaceBook. I really should. It’s like chocolate chip cookies; you know they’re bad for you, but you eat them anyway!

The latest was an article (from which I will mercifully spare you exposure) which talked about practicing your reloading skills (as in reloading the gun, not handloading ammunition in your basement.)

In it, the other repeatedly referred to reloading the gun as a “critical skill”. That phrase really annoyed me, because his ...

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Got a new Glock 43? Looking for holsters and maybe sights??

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The 9mm Glock 43 may be new on the market, but it’s already getting a lot of attention from both shooters and accessory makers. Here’s how to find out what’s available for this new “mini-9″!

The introduction of the single-stack, striker-fired 9mm Glock 43 pistol has been hard to miss. Everyone’s been talking about it and Glock even held a special event at the recent NRA Annual Meeting to introduce their latest pistol to the gun media. (Heck, even I got ...

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Are the Italians making Colt Python copies?

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I’ve had a bunch of inquiries about this picture since the NRA Show. Is a reproduction Colt Python coming to us via Italy?

While I was at the NRA Annual Meetings in Nashville a couple of weeks ago a rumor was buzzing around the show: the Italians, long known for their superb copies of historic American firearms, were going to be reproducing the Colt Python. It had supposedly been shown at the European version of our SHOT Show, the IWA, and ...

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Learning how to NOT call attention to yourself is part of self defense!

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One of the downsides to what James Burke called “unhindered, untested access to knowledge” is a fundamental misunderstanding of probability and causality. Both are critical to staying safe.

This became apparent (for the umpteenth time just this month) when I posted a story on Facebook that dealt with thieves following people home from shooting ranges and stealing their guns. According to the article the thieves targeted their victims partially because of the gun stickers in the windows or on the bumpers ...

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What were the best things I saw at the NRA Show? Tables and foam!

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As you may have heard, I attended the annual NRA Show & Meetings this last weekend (frankly, I only go for the show; the internal machinations of the NRA interest me not in the least) and I did see a couple of things that were pretty darned neat.

The NRA Show is the largest consumer trade show in the shooting industry, with some 500 vendors showing their wares and everything open to any NRA member who wants to attend. It’s the ...

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About my trip to the NRA Show: it wasn’t glamorous, but I survived.

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I learn something from every trip I make, and this year’s sojourn to the NRA Show in Nashville was no exception!

The NRA Show attracts a huge number of people every year. Some 70,000 people attended this year’s show, and Nashville wasn’t really equipped to deal with that kind of crowd. There are precious few hotels around the Convention Center, which itself is bordered by…well, not the best of areas, and any decent accommodations were booked months in advance. Even though I ...

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“Because that’s the way I was taught” is never a good answer.

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A few years ago I was teaching a class in which there was a student who’d been to several different shooting schools — including one which, in my opinion, teaches some distinctly odd material. This student was doing a particular maneuver in just such an odd manner and I asked him why.

“Because that’s the way I was taught.”

I resharpened my question and asked what the purpose of the maneuver was, why it was done that way, what specific goal was ...

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The NRA Show starts TOMORROW, and here’s another good reason to attend!

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The big NRA Show in Nashville starts tomorrow! If you’re going too, be sure to stop by and say “hi” if you see me!

First, I’ll be wandering all over the show — so feel free to stop me and say hello (look at the picture below — I’m the short guy with the hippie hair and John Lennon glasses.) You can also (and no doubt more reliably) catch me at two events:

Friday, April 10th is the first day of the show and ...

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What you don’t know can get you (or someone else) killed. Be careful and THINK.

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I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: intervening in another’s incident is risky, and more so when you do it with your firearm!

I usually catch all kinds of flak from the more militant corners of the shooting world when I say things like this, but the reality is that if you don’t know exactly what’s going on it’s very easy to find yourself at the wrong end of an arrest — or worse.

Take this recent case from Salt ...

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Ogives: secant, tangent, and why the hell should I care? What’s an ogive, anyhow??

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There was a time when I was really into the 6.5/284 cartridge (back when it was still a wildcat.) It was a pain to load for, and I never really understood why until someone taught me about ogives.

You may have heard the word ogive bandied about in talk of bullet shapes. Simply, the ogive is that tapered (curved) part of the bullet in front of the driving or bearing surface. You can easily see the ogive in both ...

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Social conditioning and the unexpected attacker.

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You may have more schooling and diplomas on your wall, but criminals are smarter than you are in some surprising and important ways. Take social conditioning, for example.

Late last year there was a death in Atlanta, the result of a Craigslist sale gone bad. One Daniel Zeitz had gone to an apartment building parking lot to sell his Playstation 4. There he met the alleged buyers, a Mr. Nathaniel Vivian and his 16-year-old girlfriend (whose name was not disclosed.)

It ...

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Do you know what to do if you’re forced to shoot an attacker? Are you sure?

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The day you always hoped would never come has indeed come: you’ve had to shoot someone to save your life or the life of a family member.

Your attacker, who moments before had been snarling commands at you while holding a knife, lies collapsed in a heap just inside your door.

Now what?

This is the part of defensive shooting we really don’t talk about very much, and we really should. We pay a lot of attention to what gun and which ammunition and what ...

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The marketplace determines what’s best on its terms, not ours.

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What makes one firearm design more successful than another? Probably not what you think.

Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons posted an interesting video recently about a prototype BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) pistol that was produced circa 1920. The pistol, in .45ACP, was intended to garner a military contract which never materialized.

What I found most intriguing was the combination of design features it incorporated: the trigger mechanism reminiscent of an FN 1910, and a ...

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Going to the NRA Show in Nashville? Stop in and say hi!

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Who’s going to the NRA Show in Nashville in a week-and-a-half? I hope you are, because I am too – and I’d really like to meet as many readers and listeners as I can!

I’ll be wandering all over the show so feel free to stop me and say hello (look for the short guy with the hippie hair and John Lennon glasses), but you can definitely catch me at two events:

First, on Friday (April 10th) starting at Noon and running ...

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Don’t let what you CAN’T do get in the way of what you CAN do. That goes for your children, too.

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A story out of a middle school in Alabama has made the rounds recently. The principal of that school suggested that parents send their kids to school with canned food, which they could hurl at an attacker in self defense.

Predictably, the gun community (particularly certain segments of it) responded with scorn and derision: “Idiotic”. “Stupid.” “Naive.” And, of course, the perennial favorite in the bumper-sticker philosophy department: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is ...

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The case for buying two identical concealed carry guns. You can thank me later.

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It’s quite popular in the world of concealed carry (CCW) and defensive shooting to say that “all guns break”. As I’ve said before, that’s true — but some guns break more commonly, more predictably, than others.

However, even the best and most reliable gun, like the most reliable automobile, becomes less so as the round count (or the mileage) accumulates. That’s just a fact of life; all mechanical devices experience wear over time, it’s just that some of them handle that ...

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My time as a Frenchman: the wonderful MAS 49/56.

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Ever shot one of these? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing!

As I mentioned recently, I’m not really a collector of anything — no, not even guns. To me firearms are a utilitarian thing, used to do work. It was like that when I was a kid on the farm; I took out one of the guns to do something specific, not to amuse myself (though I admit to having done some occasional plinking with a Winchester Model ...

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Someone once said that if you look like food, you will be eaten. Don’t look like food.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Two guys met at a trail intersection while backpacking in the woods, and since they were both going the same direction they decided to walk together. Around a bend in the trail they came face to face with a very angry bear. One of the fellows drops to his knees, grabs his running shoes from his backpack and begins to put them on. The other guy just stares and says “there’s no way ...

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Can you really learn self defense from a video?

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You might not believe this, but self defense videos have been around quite a long time. Massad Ayoob was making training videos as early as 1985, and Jeff Cooper brought out a  full series of lessons on VHS tapes in 1987. I suspect that more than a few readers of this blog weren’t even born when those videos were being watched by the defensive shooting students of the day!

Even with that long experience from notable instructors, questions remain about the ...

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The first shot isn’t necessarily the most important, but you’d better train as if it is!

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It’s been said that the most important shot in a defensive encounter is the first one. I’m not sure I agree with that; I believe the most important shot is the last one, the one which leads you to determine that you no longer have a lethal threat in front of you and that you don’t need to keep shooting.

I’ve taken the attitude that the best thing I can do is to teach my students the most efficient ways to get ...

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Want to stay safer? Don’t draw attention to yourself. Here’s how.

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Part of staying safe is not drawing attention to yourself — the kind of attention that makes you a target. That’s easier said than done, but it’s a necessary part of your defensive plans.

I’ve said in the past that situational awareness is in reality managing distractions: not allowing yourself to get inappropriately consumed by any one thing. There’s more to it, of course (active watching is the other big part), but making sure that you’re not distracted is crucial to ...

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Do you collect any particular guns? How about these?

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Believe it or not, I’m not a collector. There are times, however, that I’m sorely tempted!
I know that sounds odd, perhaps even unbelievable, but I don’t collect anything — not in the gun world, not outside the gun world. I’m just not the collecting type, though I’ve certainly been tempted by the acquisition bug now and again.

For instance, I find .25ACP and .32ACP pocket pistols fascinating. There are so many designs from so many manufacturers ...

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What is defensive training really worth? Here’s a very different way of looking at it.

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I got an email the other day from a reader, and the discussion revolved around the cost of self defense training:

“Actually the cost of training may be worthy of a blog article.

I was thinking yesterday that it seems very arbitrary. It’s too high from the perspective of a student out to get training as much as he/she can, to sort out what works personally.

It’s probably too low from the perspective of an instructor trying ...

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